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Congress, BJP spar over appointment in religious organisation in Karnataka

By, Bengaluru
May 09, 2024 02:07 AM IST

BJP criticises Karnataka government for appointing a non-Hindu to a religious committee, sparking outrage within BJP ranks. Congress defends the decision.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has launched an attack on the Congress-led Karnataka government, criticising its decision to appoint a non-Hindu individual as a member of the Avimukteswara Brahmarathotsav Samiti, a government-run religious organisation, in Hoskote town of Bengaluru Rural district.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah with deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar (PTI)
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah with deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar (PTI)

The move has sparked outrage within the BJP ranks, with MLA Sarath Bachegowda initially requesting the “formation of a committee to oversee the developmental initiatives” for the Avimukteswara Brahmarathotsava.

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In response to Bachegowda’s request, the Hoskote tehsildar appointed 12 members to the committee, among whom a Muslim man identified as Nawaz was included. The selection drew sharp condemnation from the BJP, which has expressed concerns over “the perceived encroachment on Hindu religious affairs by non-Hindu entities”.

The state BJP unit, on social media platforms criticised the Congress government’s decision, highlighting it as yet another instance of “what they perceive as an assault on Hindu traditions and beliefs”. In an official statement shared on X, the BJP called out “the need for vigilance” against what they perceive as the Congress agenda “to undermine Hindu interests”. However, the post was deleted after being called out by the Congress.

Accusing the Congress of “pursuing an agenda that allegedly favours specific communities at the expense of Hindu rights”, the BJP warned against “the potential ramifications of such appointments”, suggesting that it could set a “precedent for similar actions across the country”.

This latest controversy has reignited tensions between the BJP and Congress in Karnataka, with the BJP leveraging the issue to bolster its standing among Hindu voters. Emphasising their commitment to “safeguarding Hindu interests”, the BJP has issued a stern warning that “appointments of non-Hindu individuals to Hindu temples will not be tolerated”.

In its reaction, Congress responded, saying, “Despite reprimands from the Election Commission and international authorities regarding their dissemination of false and malicious content, it appears that the BJP’s propaganda machinery remains unyielding. The appointment of an individual from a different religious background to the Avimukteswara Brahmakalashotsava Samiti in Hoskote is not a departure from tradition but rather a longstanding practice.”

“In both 2020 and 2022, individuals from minority communities were appointed to the committee, with recommendations coming from BJP MLA MTB Nagaraj, even when the state was under BJP governance. The BJP must address the appointments made during their tenure if they wish to raise concerns about the current situation. The people are the ultimate arbiters, and they will not be swayed by deceptive tactics,” the statement concluded.

The party also put out details of a non-Hindu being appointed in 2020 and 2021 as well when the BJP was in power in the state and the recommendation was by a BJP MLA in both instances.

Taking to social media platforms to address this issue, chief minister Siddaramaiah queried, “BJP leaders, why do you keep handing us the hammer to hit back at you?” He challenged them to stop their dissemination of falsehoods and face the repercussions in society.

“The Avimukteswara Swamy Temple in Hoskote epitomizes the Hindu ethos of inclusivity towards all religions. People of diverse faiths participate devoutly and respectfully in every religious event there,” he said. He recounted instances where the BJP government, during their reign in 2020 and 2022, appointed individuals from minority communities to the same Brahmarathotsava committee.

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